Jordan Cisneros, MD, from RUSH Medical College, will serve as the 2023 student commencement speaker. Cisneros holds the special distinction of being the fourth University student speaker and the first student to represent the Medical College as a part of RUSH University’s commencement ceremony.
Cisneros is a member of the RUSH Medical College class of 2023. At RUSH University’s 51st Commencement Ceremony, he will receive his doctor of Medicine.
Cisneros received his bachelor’s degree in Physiological Science from UCLA and his Post Baccalaureate Certificate UC Davis School of Medicine. After graduation, Cisneros will be completing his residency training in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.
During his time at RUSH Medical College, Cisneros was an active member of the RUSH community. Cisneros is a founding member of multiple organizations including several pipeline programs for the underserved youth of the greater Chicago area and a first-generation student affinity group known as Together We Thrive. Founded in 2020, Together We Thrive is a program that aims to address the unique concerns and needs of first-generation medical students with the mission of boosting their attrition and matriculation rates in the medical field. Members of this group are the first generation in this country to graduate from college or to attend medical school. This initiative has made great waves in the RUSH community and has given a voice to a group of students that often did not feel included in the conversation. His efforts have not gone unnoticed as he was awarded the United States Public Service award for his work in the public service sector.
Cisneros chose to pursue a Doctor of Medicine at RUSH because of his passion for caring for others and having the ability to make a positive impact in the communities that he serves. He understands the importance of the level of trust between a physician and their patients. Cisneros has seen the impact health care professionals have on everyone they treat and has decided to pursue medicine wholeheartedly and fully commit to the service of others.
"People who go into health care often times think that they need to have all the answers or be the most intelligent in the room...It is OK to be your authentic self, it is OK to be imperfect. It's supposed to be like that, you’re supposed to bring your stories and your experience into this space."
A Q&A with RUSH University 2023 Commencement Student Speaker Jordan David Cisneros, MD
Tell me about yourself.
I grew up in Los Angeles and I am proud to have been born into a working-class family because I learned the values of hard-work and dedication from an early age. I was the first in my family to go to college and I went to UCLA where I majored in physiological science. I am a non-traditional medical student meaning that I did not go directly from college to medical school. Instead, I worked for several years as a clinical research coordinator at University of California San Francisco and Stanford before attending medical school.
Do you have any interests outside of health care?
I’ve always been a big athlete and love any type of outdoor activity like camping, hiking or going on adventures with my family. My wife and I also have a soon to be one-year-old son, so our hands are always full. I adore them and love spending time with them!
What inspired you to choose a health care profession?
I was fortunate because from an early age my parents instilled in me the belief that there were no limits to my potential. This was an attribute that served me well when it came to my pursuit of becoming a doctor because I didn’t see other Hispanic or black physicians until I was in my mid-20s. My journey towards becoming a doctor has been inspired by wanting to be that physician who inspires others to believe that there is no limit to who they are with regards to their physical, mental, or spiritual health. I hope my colleagues realize that doctors are the leaders of their community and that we are responsible for creating the next generation of leaders in healthcare.
What is something you are passionate about in health care?
From a professional standpoint, I’m very interested in making sure that we are making medicine more equitable for communities of color. More specifically, creating programs and pipeline programs to help individuals enter the professional landscape, especially for individuals who come from similar backgrounds like mine. In my community and where I grew up, people don’t have easy access to higher education and this lack of education sets communities up for failure from a health and socioeconomic perspective. I believe that if we want to create positive changes in the underserved communities, we need to focus our effort on creating the next generation of professionals from those communities because only they truly know how to best serve their people.
Why did you choose RUSH?
Born and raised in California, I felt really fortunate to grow up in an incredibly diverse state with a rich history of immigration. I always thought that I would be Californian for life. That all changed when I stepped foot in Chicago for the first time when I interviewed at RUSH. I was blown away by the wonderful city that is Chicago. When I got to the RUSH campus for recruitment day, Dr. Cynthia Boyd gave a very profound speech to us. She said, “Make a dent in the universe,” and those words really struck a chord in me.
Shortly after interview day I jumped on the Pink Line and looked over at the West Side on my left and downtown on my right and I thought to myself, “I can really make an impact here.” And that’s all I wanted to get out of medicine, to make an impact and go into the community and figure out the best way to address their needs and concerns. That why I chose RUSH because they gave me the best opportunity to go and do that. I look back at my four years here and I can say it was a success.
Do you have a favorite class or clinical experience from your time at RUSH?
When I think back it's not a specific experience but rather the ability to connect with patients of color on a much deeper level than my peers. Do not parse my words, I believe that any adequately trained physician should be able to treat their patient but being able to connect with patients requires a shared experience. I’ve been able to really relate with patients while serving on the West Side. I understand their experience and their struggle because I grew up very similar circumstances to them. I respect them and I appreciate them for who they are, and the feeling is mutual. I experienced this all the time, no matter what rotation I was on and it was truly amazing.
Do you have a memory from your time at RUSH that will stay with you?
When my son was born at RUSH. I was already done with my OB-GYN rotation. It was very interesting to be in the shoes of the patient’s family instead of the medical team. Holding the son for my first time amongst a group of clinicians that I had previously worked with. To see their love and compassion, their respect for patients. It was cool to be a part of both sides.
Were you involved in any organizations during your time at RUSH?
Yes. One of the things I am most proud of during my time at RUSH is that I am the founder of student group Together We Thrive.
I’m a first generation Mexican-American and the first to go to college and medical school in my family. Along this journey there have been times where I felt very isolated and very alone. For a long time, I thought I was the only one but as I started to connect with other students, I found that there were a lot of people who identified as first-gen students in my classes, and they also felt that sense of isolation.
I didn’t want students to feel that way anymore and I wanted to create a community for us to address our unique concerns. So I helped create Together We Thrive for first-gen students to come together and share their failures and successes and really come together as one. Each month we come together and have important discussions about topics like imposter syndrome, the hidden curriculum, and how to become the commensurate professionals in the medical field. Its been a wonderful experience and I’m proud to say this program has and will continue to increase the attrition and matriculations of first generation students at RUSH.
What advice would you give to a student starting at RUSH University?
I would say, “Work hard, stay humble and have grace for yourself.” I think that people who go into health care often times think that they need to have all the answers or be the most intelligent in the room. Often times people are so afraid to be vulnerable. It is OK to be your authentic self, it is OK to be imperfect. It's supposed to be like that, you’re supposed to bring your stories and your experience into this space. We learn from each other through a shared experience.
What would you like to impart to the Class of 2023?
Resiliency is everything. I lost my dad to COVID-19 in January of 2021. That was probably the hardest time of my life, especially because it was during medical school which is already a trying time for soon-to-be doctors. It was difficult to find the strength and courage to keep fighting for my dream but I learned throughout this process that there is no quit and there is certainly no victim in me. Becoming a doctor is not supposed to be easy, and if it was easy, everyone would do it.
I believe everyone should reflect and develop their purpose for pursuing their dream and hold it closely. That purpose will carry you when you feel that you are in a medical system which is broken. What’s the reason why you wake up every morning? If you know that reason, it can help with that burnout. I lost the most important person in my life and yet, I was able to get up every day and show up because I know the reason why I chose medicine. It's to support patients like my father, it's to support those in underserved and underrepresented communities. I’m doing it for them. And that’s why when times get hard, I keep showing up, because I know this journey is bigger than me.